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POETIC INTEGRATION IN THE HEBREW QASIDA IN MEDIEVAL SPAIN Masha Itzhald Tel Aviv University The qa$ida, the ancient Arabic ode and the only poetical pattern in the classical period of Arabic poetry, has been studied since the Middle Ages. Ibn KhaldOn, in his famous Muqaddimah, described the qasida as follows: It is speech that is divided into cola having the same meter and held together by the last letter ofeach colon. Each of those cola is called a ''verse.'' The last letler which all the verses (of the poem) have in common is called the ''rhyme letter." The whole complex is called a "poem" (qll$ida or kalimah),1 Ibn KbaldOn emphasizes not only the prosodic unifonnity of the qasida, but he also describes the distinctiveness of the verses: Each verse, with its combination of words, is by itself a meaningful unit. In a way it is a statement by itself, and independent of what precedes and what follows.... It is the intention of the poet to give each verse an independent meaning. Then, in the next verse he starts anew, in the same way with some other matter.2 The result of this rigid structure is the challenging question of the unity of the qasida and the debatable possibility of considering it as a sequential whole. Normally the qasida was divided into two parts, an introduction and the main part, which are thematically different and integrated only by unifonn meter and rhyme. In Kitabu'I-Shir wa-'I-Shu'ara, Ibn Qutayba (the famous Arabic poet from the tenth century), while describing the rigid thematic conventions of the qasida, refers to a certain rhetorical function of its pluralism by pointing out the need to achieve the attention of the audience: Then to this he linked the erotic prelude (nasib)... so as to win the hearts of his hearers and diven their eyes towards him and invite their ears to listen to him, since the song of love touches men's souls and takes hold of their 1 Ibn KhaldQn 1958:373. 2 Ibid. Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 48 Itzhaki: Poetic Integration hearts.... Now when the poet,had assured himself of an attentive hearing, he followed up his advantage and set fonh his claim.3 As the qa$ida became a basic pattern in secular Hebrew poetry in Spain, almost at the same intensivity as in Arabic classical poetry, the question of its sequential nature became an issue in Moses Ibn Ezra's theoretical book Kitab al-Mul}at/arah wa-al-MudhiIkarah. In several places Moses Ibn Ezra (1975:179, 275) deals with the conflict between the qa$ida's sequential prosodic nature and the thematic independence of its separate portions. He tries to defme a possible hannony between the disintegrated factors and the integrated ones. In the spirit of the medieval Arab scholars he uses, in this context, the image of pearls of various sizes and quality threaded on one necklace. A survey of Hebrew qa~idas which were written during the Golden Age in Spain clarifies an interesting fact Most of the Hebrew poets used the pluralistic composition of the qa$ida both in the traditional modes that were typical to Arabic poetry and in an original mode that became a device for religious as well as personal lyrics. It seems clear that quite a number of the most important Hebrew poets took advantage of the pluralistic thematical structure of the classical qa$ida, using its traditional introduction either as a device for emphasizing the message of the main part or as a device for personal poetic expression, applications that, by defmition, were not part of the rigid conventions. There are three main types of introductions to the qa$ida in Hebrew poetry. Two of them are basically in the spirit of Arabic poetry, and the third is of an original character. The first is the classical introduction. It describes the desert landscape and the "deserted dwelling places and the relics and traces of habitations" (atla/) as Ibn Qutayba puts it This introduction includes usually the Nasib, the erotic prelude. The modem introduction, the second type, was an Abbllsid reaction to the Beduin qa$ida and...


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